August 31, 2017

Ceaberry's Homesteading: My mom's garden

I am truly jealous of my mom's garden. She has raised beds enclosed with some deer fencing (it is the same method we used for the chicken run with t-posts and wire and Zip-ties). She uses Shenandoah Screened Topsoil (not a paid endorsement), it is located in Winchester, WV (can't get much more local than that for the quality we receive). I think her true key is the topsoil, because even though it is labelled as that it is a rich mixture that she DOES NOT fertilize. You will see how amazing that fact really is when you scroll through the photos below. She orders an entire pallet of topsoil bags in the 40lb bag quantity. Then, they sit at least 6 months but most of the bottom of the pile is over a year old and it is black gold when you open the bag. That is probably her second successful secret, she basically composts the top soil and adds just that to her garden.

Now for some pictures! She does "rowish" gardening in her raised beds. They are semi-permanent beds. For her beans she puts up more T-posts with that nylon square netting.

This is her beans, you are correct in thinking there are weeds in the front. Now they have been removed and the bush beans are happier. Her pole beans have lovely purple flowers and she always gets an amazing yield.

This is another raised bed. She has peppers, squash, tomatoes and corn growing in one raised bed. The sea of green is just amazing to watch!

Now this is the last true secret of my mother's garden. Sunflowers... Yup, sunflowers. Now by accident my mom discovered their very nice side effect. She got some plants from Burpee (not paid endorsement), and there was a sunflower seedling in it. Burpee seems to have this occur quite a bit with their seedlings. These are intentionally planted ones. The bees, oh the bees!! She doesn't have to worry about pollination, ever. She also has humming bird feeders nearby and butterfly bushes. For some reason she doesn't have cabbage loop worms either (lucky her) but does get Japanese beetles because of the blueberry farm down the road.

Now to see just a few things she harvested recently.

I know... you secretly are jealous too. Those cabbages were "as is" from the garden. Notice no holes!

This was a different day, her broccoli in there are actually the side shoots that are supposed to be tiny... yeah right. You can't see them but she gets 6 or so banana peppers every few days!

Why am I jealous? She doesn't fuss with her garden after planting and it grows despite the lack of tending. I think her three accidental things have helped her garden grow so well!
  1. Get good topsoil. 
    • My mom orders it from a mom and pop business but you can find it at Lowes in some places.
    • There is topsoil at Wal-Mart but we have found it to be wildly inconsistent. We got bags from two separate cities (about 3 hours apart or around 100 miles), but the SAME topsoil was rich and black at one place and completely clay at the other place. I am not kidding we bought them within a week of each other and the only reason we bought them from two different places is because we liked the first stuff so much we had the truck in another city near us and decided to get more... which was clay... yucky. 
    • Read the labels, really. If you read what is in the bag it will help you decide what is best for your area and growing habits. You can get raised garden bed mix but we were lucky with a local producer.
  2. Let it compost
    • Buy some extra bags and let them sit, out in the rain and everything. My mom just piles hers up and forgets about it until she needs it. Little buggies (and composting worms) will get in there are really make it a treat. I suggest a tight stacking method and keep the area around free of tall grass, it may just bee too tempting to snakes otherwise.
    • You don't have to let it compost but why not? You are going to need to add to your raised beds eventually, having richer topsoil then when you started is always a good thing.
    • I put my bags my mom graciously gives me into my worm tub (upcoming post). I use that as a nice medium for the tub and I get back even better soil!!
  3. Bring in the pollinators 
    • My mom has found that sunflowers, butterfly bushes and hummingbird feeders are all she needs to bring in the good and keep out the bad. 
    • I have loads of flowers and multiple beneficial species. I also have deterrent species as well and it has served me pretty nicely. 
  4. Feed your garden
    • Feeding and fertilizing are two different things. My mom does not fertilize, she feeds. She puts eggshells and spent tea in her garden and that is it. 
    • I fertilize but I also amend my soil plus my worm bins and composting bins with tea, coffee, and eggshells. 
Happy Homesteading!

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